Ahead of the draft, WNBA insiders predict Angel Reese's impact

Angel Reese is a national champion, SEC Player of the Year and the most promising player in the 2023 Final Four. As of Wednesday, she is a WNBA draft prospect who has a combination of upside and downside, WNBA general managers and scouts say.

The superstar and his LSU Tigers were denied title defense by a 94-87 loss to Iowa in the Elite Eight on Monday. Two days later, in an article in Vogue, she announced her decision to move to the WNBA.

With 6 million followers on social media, Reese is sure to bring new fans to her next home seats. Where the WNBA's insiders are a bit torn is her on-court impact.

First, there is the good. Reese is an incredible athlete. She is a rebound force. Averaged 18.6 points in addition to 13.4 rebounds per game in his final season at LSU. He recorded double-doubles in 27 of 33 games this season.

“She has a relentless competitive spirit,” said one WNBA evaluator. “She was impactful. There's a lot there, and I think she's definitely a WNBA athlete.”

When Reese is down, she excels, even if one evaluator described her finishing style as “unusual”.

“She's very dangerous in the paint,” said one WNBA general manager. “Even when she's got a big player she's very efficient because she can get around them because of her athleticism and her speed. She doesn't care if she gets hit. She can hang on two guys and finish them off.”

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For another WNBA insider, these are the intangibles that could make her a future star.

“She does what she does,” the general manager said. “She's an amazing rebounder. She gets to the free throw line. She has a high IQ and can affect your defense.”

At 6-foot-3, Reese has proven he can guard a variety of positions, including bigger players. At LSU she got the job guarding 6-7 Camila Cardoso from South Carolina and 6-7 Lauren Betts from UCLA. She held her own, showing off her strength and length, even while giving up size to bigger centers.

“She's what I'd call a two-way player,” one general manager said. “She's going to defend on one end, she's going to rebound on both ends, she's going to score.”

Reese names Aja Wilson and Candace Parker as two of her top basketball influences. In her single-leg sleeve on the court, you can see her penchant for putting the ball on the floor on the fast break, a trend Wilson started and Parker. He is an above average passer and ball handler at his position.

The most obvious area for growth is Reese's ability to shoot outside the paint. Although she played center this season at LSU, Reese has been less active at that position in the WNBA. Many centers are 6-5 or taller; Look at 6-9 Brittney Griner or 6-7 Teaira McCowan or 6-7 Cardoso. Reese is more likely to find her place as a force in the WNBA. From Breanna Stewart to Wilson to Parker to legends like Lauren Jackson, power forwards in the WNBA (and increasingly centers) often shoot from the perimeter.

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“I wish she had more of a shot,” one general manager said. “I think that's something she should add.”

“I'd like to see her improve her game outside of 10 feet,” said another evaluator. “If she's going to play the four at the pro level, I think she needs to work on her free throws and her outside shots.”

This is not new information for Reese. She looked to take jumpers at different points this season. But she shot 1-for-9 from beyond the arc and made 72.6% of her free throw attempts. In his final game at LSU, he shot 33.3% (7-of-21) from the field and 37.5% (3-of-8) from the free throw line.

Playing outside the paint is not something LSU has to do. The Tigers' best chance to win often involved Reese blocking, going to work or cleaning the glass. If she was out of the paint, it was difficult for her to do what her team needed to do to win.

In addition to bowling, some insiders have questions about his physical style and the reasons behind his four-game absence this season. For example, in the SEC championship game against South Carolina, Reese pulled Cardoso's hair and elbowed her in the face.

“Some of the things she does are disrespectful to the game,” said one general manager.

Reese knew she had to put in the work. She should be at the gym. Pro players get better all the time, adding new skills and improving old ones. WNBA brass wants to see that fire from Reese.

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“Now, what I want to learn is what her work ethic really is?” A WNBA coach said.

Reese expects her next chapter to be tough.

“I'll be working with grown women,” she said told Vogue. “I work with women who have had babies, I work with women who have families to feed. I have to work my butt off every day. Who doesn't want that? I don't want anything in my life to be easy.”

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